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Psapp toys around on new album

Daniel Barabasi | Tuesday, November 12, 2013

For all the budding hipsters reading this, I’ve found your new high. The electronica band Psapp, pronounced something like p-sap, works as a great “Hipsterdom for Dummies.” It’s an obscure experimental duo who pioneered the beauty of the genre “toytronica” and that is relevant only because they wrote the “Grey’s Anatomy” theme. 

Plus, their latest album, “What Makes Us Glow” is totally overshadowed by the release of “Artpop,” so you totally have that going for you as well. Even if you have already taken a few crash courses in the hipster ideologies, Psapp’s got your back covered with its masterful commentary, giving all those toy saxophone riffs all the more meaning.

The album allows for quite a bearable listening experience if used as ambient noise. Really, if you are planning to have a dinner party any time soon just take this album, throw it on repeat, then when a guest asks what this auditory orgasm that they are experiencing is, just raise a your nose a little and with the straightest face tell them, “Oh, it’s this wondrous duo, Galia Durant and Carim Clasmann, I’ve had a chance to experience. They make all their music using toys, toy instruments and children. It’s quite charming really.” Then watch the guest never talk to you again. Ever. Mission accomplished.

 Despite my inability to understand how any music made with things we give to toddlers to put in their mouths, listening to Psapp’s mixing gets pretty interesting. “The Cruel, the Kind and the Bad” uses what sounds like slide whistles and a toy piano to create a waltz-like feel. Then, in “Everything Belongs to the Sun,” you may hear some great cat meows going on, but the commentary tells us that it’s actually Galia’s daughter cooing in the recording room during production. 

The one song that I had a bit of trouble with was “Wet Salts,” where they left a bit of harsh high notes at the end. Overall the piece is not bad and again is cool to listen to, but maybe avoid it on Saturday mornings after a long night of drinking apple juice.

Overall, the album itself is alright, and only stands out due to how it’s created. The commentary really gets me though, because it shows how differently Galia and Carim approach the music they are making. Reenacting the sound devices of the actual album, the whole commentary is recorded with what sounds like a dishwasher being loaded in the background. 

When Galia does commentary, she talks about the inspiration of the music, for example “Wet Salts” comes from the sound of the gravel in her old country home, where they recorded the songs, and what interesting contraptions they used as instruments. 

Then you get to Carim’s interpretations and find that in “BAM,” the sound they got from smashing a duck actually represents the darkness and despair you feel when your father suddenly passes away from a fast-acting cancer. My favorite line from him is,  “…but fools have a far better time in the end.” His monotone voice makes him sound like a regretful adult who studied his whole life, missing out on the crazy adventures of his classmates only to realize he hates being a doctor.

Really, if you got this far and you are not a hipster, just write down the name of this album into your personal notebook or notes app or whatever. Then, when you feel like you need inspiration to give a hundredth try at that pesky orgo assignment, pull up “What Makes Us Glow” and think about how if these British crazies can make an album out of things they found in Babies’R’Us. You can probably drudge through whatever chemistry can throw at you.

 

Contact Daniel Barabasi at dbaraba1@nd.edu